Coffee from its origins has been the faithful companion of many artists, stimulating their creativity. For some it is even raw material for amazing masterpieces. In this article we take a little dip in a cup of coffee and in the branch of art that is inspired by it: the coffee art.

Coffee is a source of inspiration

Want for the contained caffeine, which acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system, either for the toasted taste, it is certain that coffee stimulates ideas. Already Voltaire claimed to drink 40 coffees a day to be well awake and able to “think”.

But some artists didn’t just limit themselves to drinking it: they used espresso just like an ink. It starts from a dark liquid, more or less covering, and then fades it to obtain various lighter shades.

American coffee art

The artist Karen Eland, in her studio in Oregon, has painted many canvases using only coffee and water, also proposing her personal reinterpretations of some famous paintings. Among these is his Monna Latte, an irreverent version of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, represented with a cup of cappuccino in his hand. But also the Creation of the coffee, a revisitation of the famous painting “Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo, part of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. In his personal version, Eland puts a coffeepot in Adam’s hand, which fills the cup the maker hands him.

Monna Latte, Karen Eland
Creation of the coffee, Karen Eland

Another woman, Tammie Wales, originally from Southern California, has been painting since 2015 exclusively with the 15 shades of brown she gets from coffee, concentrated or diluted with water.

painting of Tammie Wales

Americans too, the artists Angel Sarkela-Saur and Andrew Saur, wife and husband, call themselves the Coffee Artists and have registered the brand Coffee ArtⓇ. They have been painting coffee for more than ten years, reinventing it as a pictorial medium. Starting from the consideration that coffee is a universal drink, consumed all over the world, they try in every work to create something extraordinary starting from an “ordinary” material which is the coffee that each of us drinks every morning when we wake up. In October 2009 they were invited by the Italian Academy of Coffee Masters to demonstrate their spectacular painting technique at the Host Expo in Milan, the well-known hospitality fair.

painting of Angel Sarkela and Andrew Saur

Art with coffee in Italy

And in Italy? In our country, where 80% of the population drinks coffee, a coffee artist could not miss: stage name Bernulia, born Giulia Bernardelli from Mantova. In his case the works of art are all born from a cup of spilled coffee on a white table. But also from honey, chocolate, spices and aromatic herbs. But Bernulia does not use the classic brushes, but spoons, fingers, toothpicks, to be consistent with the particular “pigments” used. These tools are used to drag the spots and create his masterpieces. He has almost 100 thousand followers on Instagram, where he posted the photos of his ephemeral works in real time. In fact, they do not survive over time, although they can take as long as ten hours to complete.

painting of Bernulia

Creating with grains

But even with coffee beans you can make works of art, taking advantage of the difference in color given by the different degrees of roasting. The Russian artist and sculptor Arkady Kim entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2012, creating “The Awakening” in Moscow, a mural of 30 square meters. For the work he used 180 kilos of coffee, or about one million grains. Ten meters long for a work to smell!

The Awakening, Arkady Kim